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Pen Pals in Iowa
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A Letter by Anne Frank
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Pen Pals in Iowa
The postcard Anne sent to Juanita Wagner shows a picture of typical canal in Amsterdam, bordered by leafy trees.

With the Second World War just about to break out in Europe, Birdie Mathews, a teacher in Iowa decided to put her students in touch with children who were being threatened by war. In the spring of 1940, this seventh- and eight-grade teacher at Danville Community School in Des Moines County offered her students the chance to correspond with pen pals overseas. One of her students, ten year-old Juanita Wagner, drew the name of another ten year-old girl in the Netherlands—Anne Frank.

Within a few weeks time, Juanita received two overseas letters. Anne had written back to Juanita. Anne’s sister Margot, age fourteen at the time, had also written a letter to Betty Ann, Juanita’s fourteen-year old sister.

The Iowa girls waited in vain for second letter. Most likely, Anne and Margot did not write back again because war broke out in the Netherlands shortly after the first correspondence took place.
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Photo courtesy of Simon Wiesenthal Center—Museum of Tolerance Library and Archives, Los Angeles.
Anne Frank Guide
This day in history
Today: 12 December 2017
Then: 11 December 1941

Germany and Italy declare war on the United States; the U.S. respond in kind.

View the timeline